By Camille Maddox, from Emory University working with the Community Planning and Economic Development Department
The Urban Scholars were invited to the Minneapolis Department of Community Planning and Economic Development (CPED) for a department overview. We were able to learn about the three divisions that make up the CPED department, which include: Economic Development, Housing, and Planning. The director from each of the three divisions of CPED presented at the overview. First up was Tom Streitz, the Director of Housing Policy and Development. He explained that the primary goal of the CPED Housing Division is to “create housing that meets the needs of all of the city’s citizens, from million dollar condos to homeless shelters”. He also discussed an issue that arises in departments across city government which is how to balance the needs of the city. For example, million dollar condos are needed to engage the market otherwise there will not be a large enough tax base to support the city. However, affordable housing is needed as well. How does the housing department make sure there is an adequate amount of each type of housing? That is one of the questions the Housing Division aims to answer.
Next Jason Wittenberg, the Director of Planning, gave us an overview of the responsibilities of the Planning Division of CPED. He explained that the advantage of becoming a city planner in a large city as opposed to a small town is you are able to specialize in a particular segment of city planning or planning in a specific area of the city. One thing that makes the Planning Division of the City of Minneapolis unique is that it has a Public Art Program Coordinator, a position that normally would not be in the Planning Division of a city’s government.
Last to present was Cathy Polasky the Director of Economic Policy and Development. She started the presentation by discussing the primary goal of her division which is to “support four important City goals: a diverse economy, attractive and vital neighborhood community centers, a healthy tax base, and strong job opportunities for Minneapolis residents”. She talked extensively about how the Economic Policy and Development division works to close the gap in the city between areas that are very developed and successful and areas that need assistance in spurring development.
We learned that although each individual division of CPED has its own goals they all work towards the CPED mission which is to work to grow a sustainable city.